NSA Freedom Day!
The phone metadata provisions have expired
. Kinda hate to admit it, but we have Rand Paul
to thank for this.
The expiration of three key provisions of the Patriot Act means that, for now, the N.S.A. will no longer collect newly created logs of Americans’ phone calls in bulk. It also means that the F.B.I. cannot invoke the Patriot Act to obtain, for new investigations, wiretap orders that follow a suspect who changes phones, wiretap orders for a “lone wolf” terrorism suspect not linked to a group, or court orders to obtain business records relevant to an investigation.
But don't do a jig just yet, since Congress is looking for a way to unleash the beast once more.
Jeb wants you to work more.
As George Carlin warned us: They're comin' for your Social Security. Jeb Bush
seems to be under the impression that he can increase his popularity if he asks Americans to work more.
“We need to look over the horizon and begin to phase in, over an extended period of time, going from 65 to 68 or 70,” he added. “And that, by itself, will help sustain the retirement system for anybody under the age of 40.”
At the same time, Bush said that he would be open to cutting back benefits for wealthy people and their beneficiaries, a reform proposal known as means testing.
As always, our candidates and our media refuse to mention the easiest way to make Social Security solvent forever: Raising the cap.
Has the Democratic Party gone too far to the left?
That is what the NYT tried to argue in an instantly-infamous editorial
, which plays to the fears of all Dems old enough to recall McGovern's loss in 1972. Two Salon pieces offer the necessary counter-argument. The better of the two is by Paul Rosenberg
Put simply, the last two Democratic presidents tried running to the center and while it worked like a charm to get them elected, it proved disastrous soon after. Both governed perpetually on the defensive, despite winning re-election rather comfortably
Electing a Dem president who governs as a moderate Republican is bad enough, but that's not the real problem. The real problem is that a drone-happey Dem like Obama --someone who always seems to be angrier at his left-wing base than at his blood enemies on the right -- makes the entire brand seem unattractive.
The fruits of these two “successful” two-term Democratic presidents were sketched out by Sean Trende and David Byler at Real Clear Politics, in an article bluntly titled,”The GOP Is the Strongest It’s Been in Decades.” Their analysis was based on an index including Congress (House and Senate), the presidency, and governors and state legislatures, who are usually foolishly ignored. Still, in the end, everything hinges on those two “centrist” triumphs, which turned out to be anything but, each failing to rally and inspire supporters with the governance that followed, resulting in sweeping losses...
Back in 2008, I predicted that things would shake out this way. Not that anyone noticed.
Looking forward to 2016, if Democrats are to break through this current condition of GOP strength — if they’re to have any chance of retaking Congress, making gains in state legislatures and implementing policies that will improve their standing over time, they will need to move unambiguously to the left.
There are three main reasons that running left makes sense. The first is pragmatic: Progressive economics works, while conservative economics does not. The second is pragmatic in a different sense: “moving to the center” doesn’t work as a political move for Democrats, no matter how much they wish that it did. The third reason illuminates things even more: the public is already more liberal than Democrats realize — even willing to support things that Democrats haven’t dared propose. Let’s consider each of these reasons in more detail.
I think we can use the abortion debate as a test here. For as long as I can recall, there has been an infuriatingly immovable 50/50 split on that issue -- yet now, the pro-choice position has pushed significantly ahead. This surge tells us that younger people favor the more liberal position, and we have good reason to believe that younger people favor a lot of other liberal stances as well. Moreover, I suspect that this generation may not calcify into conservatism as the years pass, as previous generations were wont to do. Why would the Dems alienate a growing progressive majority?
Every time right-wing politicians say something bizarre to placate the fundamentalist psychopaths in their party base, Democrats gain more political space to be Democrats.
The return of "progressive" Clinton-phobia:
I am much less impressed by the way Conor Lynch
addresses the issue.
Wehner’s observations are correct, Obama is certainly more of a liberal than Clinton was; but that is not saying very much.
In what universe is that true?
Bill Clinton fought for a much better health care system than the one Obama gave us. Clinton was loathe to involve us in foreign wars, his NSA observed at least some
limits, his SEC did at least some
good, he preserved the Community Reinvestment Act against strong opposition, he gave enormous help to millions of poor working people with the Earned Income Tax Credit, and -- most importantly -- he raised taxes on the wealthy
(in contrast to Obama, who preserved the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy). Let's also not forget that Clinton's government was infinitely
more transparent. You didn't see Bill Clinton jailing whistleblowers by the truckload, and I strongly doubt that Clinton would have used drones with Obama-esque abandon.
Lynch agrees with the original NYT editorialist, who wrote of Obama: "He has focused far more on income inequality than did Mr. Clinton, who stressed opportunity and mobility." Why the focus on mere rhetoric? What counts is money. Incomes were, in fact, more equal under Clinton (thanks in large measure to those more progressive tax rates), while inequality has soared under Obama
. So who is kidding whom here?
While reading this piece, I thought: The motherfucking idiot who wrote this tripe is going to repeat the Big Lie about Glass-Steagall, isn't he?
Today, 40 years into the neoliberal era, conservative economic policies that were embraced by Bill Clinton have proven to be quite profitable for the upper classes, but disastrous for everyone else. This is especially true in the case of Clinton’s signing of the Financial Modernization Act of 1999 — which threw out the remaining laws of the Glass-Stragall [sic] Act — and the Clinton administration’s refusal to regulate financial derivatives.
Horseshit. All of it. Horseshit
. (Since when does raising taxes on the wealthy count as "conservative" or "neoliberal"?)
Let's say it yet again: The person most responsible for replacing the Glass-Steagall regs with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was Phil Gramm. In a strongly Republican Congress, Gramm's measure was so popular that it was going to pass by a veto-proof majority
Let me ask you, Conor -- may I call you Conor? Or would you prefer Motherfucking Idiot? Very well. Let me ask you, Mr. Motherfucking Idiot, this one simple question: What part of the words "veto-proof majority" do you not understand?
I talked about Gramm's Act in this 2008 post
. That was the year when Obama-adoring progressives (remember how they assured us that Mr. O was the New Messiah?) first started to spread the Big Lie.
When forced to confront the inconvenient fact that I have just now put into boldfaced letters, the progs retreat to a more weasle-like position: "Yeah, well, Bill Clinton did nothing to fight it." Anglachel digs up contemporary reports to demonstrate that, in fact, he did. Here's the bottom line:
So what do we see in this contemporaneous report? That the White House had been pushing back on this act for months. That certain Congressional Dems, Dodd and Schumer foremost, explicitly wanted to kill Glass-Steagall. That the White House fought them as well as Gramm on this issue. That the White House rallied Democrats to present a solid front to the measure, requiring that the CRA be protected, which some Congressional Dems were just as happy to toss out along with all other protections.
"CRA" stands for Community Reinvestment Act, a 1977 law which helped minorities get home loans. Clinton fought to get the best deal that he could, but gale-force political winds were against him.
Yes, you can blame the repeal of Glass-Steagall on Democrats -- not all of them, perhaps not the majority of 'em, but a good number of 'em. But you can't blame Bill Clinton. Blaming Bill Clinton is like blaming Raoul Wallenberg for not defeating the Wehrmacht single-handed.
Mr. Motherfucking Idiot's piece continues in that vein. It's almost as ridiculous as the NYT editorial which gave rise to it.